May 31, 2013

Beach Movies 2: The Duds

Between 1963 and 1967, AIP churned out a dozen Frankie-and-Annette beach movies that emphasized biceps over bikinis and buddy-bonding over hetero-romance.  Other studios followed suit, but they were not nearly as eager to expose male muscle.  Where the Boys Are, Beach Ball, Palm Springs Weekend, and many others paired girls in bikinis with boys who were fully clothed.  The swimming pool scene in C'mon, Let's Live a Little featured six mostly naked girls and one fully-clothed boy.

Nor were there substantial gay subtexts.  Instead of plotlines about boys choosing buddies over The Girl, they involved boys abandoning buddies in search of The Girl.

For instance, Palms Springs Weekend (1963), is over-loaded with hetero-romance.  Overaged college buddies Jim (Troy Donohue) and Biff (Jerry Van Dyke) visit the desert resort, where they try to get with the police chief's daughter (Stefanie Powers) and a shy wallflower (Zeme North), respectively.

Meanwhile, high schooler Gayle (1960s it-girl Connie Stevens), posing as a college student, gets hit on by spoiled rich kid Eric (Robert Conrad, star of Hawaii Five-0) and tries to get with a cowboy named Stretch (Ty Hardin, a discovery of gay talent agent Henry Willson). 

Not enough hetero-romance?  Ok.  The boys' basketball coach (Jack Weston) comes along as a chaperon, and tries to get with the owner of the hotel they're staying in (Carole Cooke), but he's stymied by her rambunctious young son, Boom-Boom (Billy Mumy of Lost in Space).  Yes, there's a kid named Boom-Boom.

There are also some hunky basketball players in the background, played by Greg Benedict, Gary Kincaid, Mark Dempsey, and the last of the Henry Willson discoveries, Jim Shane (left).

With all of the competition over girls and ruminations over girls, there must be some gay-subtext triangulations somewhere.  But I couldn't find any.

The whole movie is a dud.  Leads you to wonder what made the AIP beach movies so beefcake- and subtext-heavy.

See also: Buster Keaton